Woman’s days of torture living in virus death zone
FROM a lack of toilet paper to making their own face masks, a Brisbane expatriate has given an insight into what it's like inside the coronavirus lockdown in Japan.
The Wynnum woman, who asked not to be named, now lives in Sapporo in Hokkaido with her husband and children.
Hokkaido's governor declared a state of emergency on Japan's northernmost main island on February 28 and asked residents to remain inside over the weekend in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
Despite the lockdown, the 43-year-old expat said there was a "fairly relaxed vibe" in the area, except for some panic buying.
She said she was surprised to see toilet paper shelves bare during a trip to the shops to buy hand sanitiser and antibacterial cleaning products over the weekend.
"(Husband) and I tried again tonight at multiple places. No toilet paper again and the last shop had a small amount of tissues left, which would have sold out after we left," she wrote on Facebook.
"I even saw people running down the street carrying tissues and toilet paper today!"
The Australian also wrote she overheard two young men, standing in the toilet paper aisle, pondering over what to do at one shop.
"In Japanese, one of them basically said to the other, "what the hell are we going to do?" The other answers back, "I guess we're going to have to use kitchen paper" (paper towels), (sic)," she wrote.
"For those who live outside Japan and have never visited, some people live in small apartments with little storage space, tiny pantry and small fridge, so grocery shopping is often done every couple of days for some people (in Australia we would do one massive shop per week). I feel bad for people desperate for toilet paper tonight! (sic)."
The woman told The Courier-Mail that although some businesses and shops remained open, tourist attractions, meeting places and centres for various activities have been closed.
Sporting groups have cancelled training and competitions and some international entertainers have postponed tours to Japan.
Schools have also been closed, along with the centre where the woman's 11-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter were taking Japanese classes.
"Foreigners who are teaching English and working in the tourist industry may be concerned about work," she said.
"They have had jobs cancelled and they do not know when they will be able to return to work."
The mum-of-two estimates two thirds of people in her area wear disposable masks over their mouths, with a mask shortage contributing to an increase of people making their own.
"The masks are sold out everywhere I go and have been for over two months now," she said
"Luckily, (husband) and I purchased some reusable ones last year, so I have been washing them in detergent and popping them into just-boiled water for a soak, then drying them daily." Back in Brisbane, the woman's mum is helping by sewing cloth masks to send to the family.
According to Nippon.com. there have been 221 people infected with the virus in Japan, with six fatalities.
The worst outbreak has been in Hokkaido, where 77 people have been infected.